“This too shall pass.” I heard my dad say it a thousand times when I found myself in an undesirable situation. Such simple yet profound words. His matter-of-fact adage has helped me many a time to press on through the disappointments and challenges of life.
Now I find myself the mother to seven children, three of whom are currently toddlers…they are 3, 2, and 1. And amidst the exhaustion of constant training and disciplining and thinking, “Why on earth would you do that???!!!!” my father’s words ring in my mind…just with a slight change in spelling: “This TWO shall pass.” They will not be rambunctious toddlers trapped in their “terrible two’s” forever. But what do I do with them in the meantime?
There are many wonderful Christian parenting books available, but I’ve come across one recently that has helped me immeasurably, especially with my toddlers. It’s Raising Godly Tomatoes by L. Elizabeth Krueger, homeschooling mother of 10 children. I’d like to share a little with you about this book and how it has helped me, but let me preface this by saying that the tools offered, however Biblically-based, will be ineffectual for you if you are not filled with the Holy Spirit and guided by His wisdom; and that comes by abiding in the Eternal Vine through prayer and Bible reading. If you have not taken time today to read your Bible, I’d respectfully recommend that you spend your time, not in WordPress, but in the Word!!
Here is an excerpt that summarizes Krueger’s message:
“Every gardener knows what I mean by ‘tomato staking.’ A tomato plant grows fast, big, and wild. If left unattended, it soon sprawls out into an unwieldy heap. As the fruit grows, it weighs the plant down to the ground. Propping by this time is too late. Any attempt to retrain and redirect the growth of the branches will result in breakage and substantial loss of fruit due to rot, disease, and pests.”
The converse, then, is what the author calls “Tomato Staking.” The Bible show us that we can learn many valuable life lessons from the world of gardening. This is one such analogy. Kruegger continues to make the point that the way to “stake our tomatoes” and sufficiently guide, train, and correct them is to be with or near them pretty much all the time. Toddlers should be in close range as often as possible. Older kids should be in a place where parents can keep tabs on them and recognize if an attitude problem is taking root. As they earn trust, they earn freedom. When there’s a problem, you bring them closer. Obviously, in a 258 page book, there’s much more to it than that, but I believe this summarizes the gist of the book.
I’ve made some changes in our daily flow as a result of reading this book, and these alterations have made a huge difference!!! One of the main changes is this: I used to have one of my bigger kids supervise my two toddlers in their bedroom where they were out of my sight and mostly out of hearing range. This breeded a lot of problems. Now I’ve made an effort to come up with activities that they can enjoy in the living room or dining room while I’m homeschooling, still with the involvement of the older kids. I also try to have my toddlers working with me more while I’m cleaning or putting away laundry, etc. It can be tiring to include them in the work, but not any more tiring than dealing with the huge messes or fights that result from a lack of supervision. And the benefit is that the home is much more peaceful. It is a more productive exhaustion!
I’ve also made some changes with my older kids. If I hear that they are having trouble getting along, for example, they will need to bring their school work to the dining room table instead of the classroom where I can observe and interact with them more. Once I can see that their hearts are joyful and cooperative again, they may return to the classroom. It is not a punishment, per se. On the contrary, as long as my own attitude is encouraging and not harsh, these ‘tomato staking’ occasions have been an enjoyable time for me and the kids.
This book opened my eyes to some areas in which my kids were demonstrating subtle defiance, and I hadn’t even recognized it! Within one day of “staking my tomatoes,” I was achieving quicker obedience with my toddlers, and after a few weeks of pulling my older kids closer when they were struggling rather than addressing problems from another room or sending them to their rooms, we have a noticeably more harmonious home. Everyone is happier!!
Kruegger covers almost every imaginable scenerio with various solutions for the situation, and she accompanies every single subtopic with Scripture. While this book is perhaps a little longer than some parenting books, I believe it is worth your time to read it.
Stake your tomatoes now, and enjoy the rich fruit for the rest of your lives!!
God bless you on your journey.